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David Taylor


David Taylor


For as long as I can remember I have been an advocate for people’s rights. I attended Monash University and was elected, at the end of my first year, the Faculty Liaison Officer of the Students Society. A few years later I became involved in student politics and was elected the National Education Officer of the National Union of Students. After finishing my law degree I worked as an Industrial Officer for the National Tertiary Education Union in Tasmania for three years. I left this job and moved to Sydney in 2000 to become a lawyer.

In 2001 I was admitted as a solicitor.  Initially I worked  as part of the group prosecuting claims for victims of asbestos diseases. I loved (and continue to love) this work and have been humbled by the privilege of representing and helping people at a terrible stage of their lives and the trust they have placed in me to get the best result possible. I was involved in a number of test cases including two matters that ended in the High Court, both of which have had significant effects on the law and the ability of victims of asbestos disease to recover damages. As a result of one of these claims insurers now need to prove the limit of a policy of insurance rather than a victim proving a policy was unlimited.

From 2007, in addition to asbestos work, I have practiced employment and industrial law acting for individuals in claims for unfair dismissal, adverse action, underpayment, harassment and discrimination as well as acting for a number of unions in enterprise bargaining, workplace determinations and industrial disputes. I became a partner of the firm I worked at.  In 2010 I became an accredited specialist in employment and industrial law.

I have acted in a number of significant employment and industrial matters. I was the solicitor for the Australian & International Pilots Association during the dispute between Qantas pilots (and other Qantas employees) and Qantas management in 2011-12 (when Qantas grounded the airline). I ran the first successful claim under the Independent Contractors Act and one of the few successful sexual harassment claims resulting in a significant award to a woman who suffered serious psychological trauma as a result of harassment and victimisation.

In 2016 Tanya Segelov established Segelov Taylor Lawyers. Our mission is to provide high quality, personalised legal services in a few core areas.

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I joined the National Tertiary Education Industry Union (NTEU) as the Industrial Officer for the union’s Tasmanian Branch.
I was admitted as a solicitor.
I had carriage of a claim for compensation by Mr Stewart, who had been exposed to asbestos while employed at Pilkington Glass and had developed mesothelioma (a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos). At the time of the proceedings Pilkington Glass had long since been deregistered. However, at the time of his employment, employers in NSW were required to hold insurance policies with at least $40,000 cover against common law claims. We proceeded against the insurer, seeking compensation under the policy as well as the supplier of asbestos gloves that Mr Stewart had used. The insurance policy documents were lost. While we were able to identify the insurer, we were not able to determine the amount of cover, and in particular whether the policy was for the $40,000 statutory minimum or some greater amount. The insurance company argued that Mr Stewart should be limited to recovering only the statutory minimum, as we had not been able to show that the policy covered more than that. We argued that the insurer had the onus of showing any limit on the policy. The matter ran all the way to the High Court (Wallaby Grip & Anor v. QBE; Stewart v. QBE [2010] HCA 9; (2010) 240 CLR 444) which found that the insurer had the onus of showing any limit on the indemnity. As they had led no evidence, the plaintiff was entitled to recover all his damages from the insurer. The case is significant and has made it easier for hundreds of victim of asbestos disease to recover damages as the insurer now bears the onus of showing any limit to an insurance policy.
I had carriage of the first successful proceedings concerning the application of the Independent Contractors Act. The Independent Contractors Act, passed by the Commonwealth Government in 2007, permitted Courts to vary certain types of contracts that were found to be unfair. The proceedings concerned contracts between Riteway Transport, and three truck drivers who transported goods between Melbourne and Sydney six nights a week. Riteway sought to terminate the truck drivers contracts without providing notice or payment in lieu of notice. In extended proceedings, we established that the contracts were unfair because they permitted termination in such circumstances. On our submission, the Court varied the contracts so as to insert, retrospectively, a term requiring provision of notice into each contract. The Court then found that Riteway had breached that term. The case – Keldote & Ors v. Riteway Transport [2010] FMCA 394 – remains the most significant victory for an applicant under the legislation.
I had carriage of a New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal claim for Mrs Laurie, who acted for the estate of her late father who had died from smoking related lung cancer and had sued the manufacturers of Benson & Hedges cigarettes, BATAS. BATAS sought to have the judge disqualify himself on the grounds of apprehended bias. Despite being successful in the Dust Diseases Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, the High Court found that the Judge should have disqualified himself. The case is now a leading authority on the apprehended bias rule.
I advised the union representing Qantas pilots, the Australian & International Pilots Association, in the lead up to, during and after their dispute with Qantas in 2011 which led to the grounding of the airline in October 2011. The dispute, in its various iterations, lasted from 2010 to about 2014 and involved an extended period of bargaining and industrial action, proceedings in the Fair Work Commission terminating the industrial action (and a judicial review application to the Full Court of the Federal Court on the Commission’s decision) and finally extended proceedings for a workplace determination. Ultimately, despite Qantas’s best efforts to significantly reduce pilot’s terms and conditions, the changes the company sought were resisted.
Together with Tanya Segelov, I established Segelov Taylor Lawyers. The firm focuses on dust disease, employment and industrial law and other complex litigation matters.
I acted for the Finance Sector Union in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. This work involved promoting the Union’s agenda of a fair, just accountable and economically responsible banking system.

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